Manly star in week one By Matthew Johns | September 15, 2008 http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegrap...016307,00.html THE first week of the finals have shown us that this season's title race, which is drawing to an intriguing climax, is wide open. Forget about it being a one-horse race. I see four teams in terrific form and capable of grabbing the trophy. This is how I rate the performances of the teams left fighting after week one. 1: Sea Eagles: Couldn't have been more impressive. They are without a doubt a better team than they were in 2007. On Saturday night the Dragons put Manly under a fair degree of pressure in the first half and for long periods the Sea Eagles were playing on the back foot. They absorbed the pressure without a whimper and counter-punched ferociously to totally dominate the contest. Orford's performance was his best in finals football. The bookies should be shortening Manly's odds. They were brilliant. 2: Sharks: The Sharkies' roll continues. They may not compete in the razzle dazzle stakes with fellow heavyweights, but their grit and discipline forces teams to play their game. Cronulla's defence swarmed aggressively on Saturday night and the Raiders may as well have been playing football in a phone box. Brett Kimmorley was again exceptional. The champion No.7 has never guided a side better than he is doing at the moment. The Sharks are thriving in the high-pressure atmosphere of September and it's going to take a mighty team, having a good day, to stop their run. 3: Warriors: A tremendous display yesterday. They beat the Melbourne Storm at Melbourne's game. They rolled over the top of them through the middle of the football field, and controlled the tempo of the Melbourne attack, with their physicality in defence. Grant Rovelli provided a turning point for the Warriors attack when he came off the bench, while Michael Witt played the best game I've seen him play in a big match. The Warriors showed yesterday why opposition sides don't like to play against them. They are tough to beat, and will be doubly tough next week at home in New Zealand. 4: Broncos: In the first half on Friday night there were danger signs for Broncos fans. The Broncos seemed to be returning to "Lockyball''. Take one up, give it to Lockyer, take another one up and again give it to Lockyer. The focus on simply looking to Lockyer for the big play had their attack stalling. In the second half Brisbane's forwards worked the centre field nicely off Michael Ennis and Peter Wallace and the attack got going. Lockyer's brilliance and experience was the cream on top. I can see the Broncos really going up a gear next week and being harder to beat, week by week. 5: Roosters: In the first half the Roosters played fast, physical and had seemingly come to life again for the finals. Their halves, Pearce and Anasta, really dominated the first 40 minutes, as did Mark O'Meley, but for vastly different reasons. In the second half the Roosters of July and August returned and they really lacked any spark or energy. Whereas in the first half they exploded forward in defence,in the second they sat on their heels and the Broncos key men did whatever they wanted. If they can repeat that first 40 minutes for the full 80, they are back in business, but I'm not sure they can. 6: Storm: The biggest indicator yesterday that Melbourne were off their game was the fact that for a side who pride themselves on ruck dominance, they were beaten comprehensively by the Warriors in that area. As a result they never got a foothold in the contest, and their key men such as Cronk, Slater and Cameron Smith were very much understated. The Melbourne Storm, with three minutes to go, were looking as though they were going to pull off a win which they didn't deserve until the Warriors produced their amazing grandstand finish. Now the Storm face sudden death each week to defend their title.